John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Chief of Army Staff ( COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, has given troops and commanders in the newly established 2 Battalion in Kompanin-Doka, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State three weeks to flush out the bandits terrorising the area.
He also warned that commanders would be held responsible for any lapses that will lead to unnecessary casualty among troops during the operation.
The Birnin Gwari area has been under constant attack by bandits who invade communities, kill, kidnap and rob people.
About two weeks ago, the bandits invaded Gwaska community in the area and killed over 70 people while houses were burnt.
Following the incessant killings, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the establishment of an army battalion and a police area command in the area.
Addressing the troops when he paid a visit to the battalion on Monday, Buratai said: “In the next two, three weeks, there must be a resounding results that will bring these criminals to their knees finally.”
He said the criminals “are not coming from the moon or coming from outer space, they are within this territory. I don’t know why you cannot go to where they are and get them fished out”.
The army chief declared that “the killings must stop, the wanton destruction of property must stop, not only within Kaduna State but in the North-west, the North-central and across our country”.
“We must respond decisively and commanders will be personally held responsible for any lapses. You must decide and take appropriate action, anything outside that, you will also be held responsible,” he warned.
He said the Nigerian army will no longer adopt a defensive approach but offensive approach, adding that the battle must be taken to the doorsteps of the criminals.
“We are no longer going to adopt the defensive approach, it must be offensive. Since the battle has been brought to you, you must take it back and crush them wherever they are.
” I am happy with the initiative of General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division and all the commanders and I want to see a decisive result at end of this operation,” he said.
While noting the challenges of the troops, Buratai assured them that the challenges were being addressed.
“The GOC have briefed me thoroughly on your challenges. Be rest assured we have started addressing some of these challenges.
“I can see the type of mobility that you have, the motorbike and the try-circles. We have equally added some few trucks to enable you have more fire power and mobility.
“You must utilise them effectively. I have told your commanders what to do and you must apply them to achieve the desired result,” he said.
He further emphasised the need to adhere to the rule of engagement, warning that anyone who violates it would face appropriate sanctions.
The army chief noted that the security situation in the Birnin Gwari area still remains unpredictable and charged the troops to protect themselves.
He said: “It is unfortunate that the insecurity is equally turning against the security forces.
“We are first and foremost supposed to ensure that we protect ourselves. If we cannot protect ourselves, it will be difficult to protect any other person.
“I am saying this against the unfortunate incident that happened here, in this particular place where 11 of our colleagues were unfortunately killed.
“Our training must be applied on the ground. Whatever we have learnt during training, must be applied on the ground.
“You must apply all the techniques and the procedures and the tactics for the type of operations you are deployed to perform. So we expect very high standard of operation.
“A situation where our troops don’t observe the basic routines must be avoided.”
Speaking earlier when he visited the emir of Birnin Gwari, Mallam Jibrin Zubairu, in his palace, Buratai assured the emir that everything was being done to address the security situation in the area.
“We are working round the clock to make sure we get things in order” he said and solicited for the continuous support and cooperation of the people of the area.
“We will do our best so that the situation is brought to normalcy. The army is concerned, the government is concerned, I want to assure you that we will work assiduously to bring about normalcy here so that the people will go back to their farms and continue their livelihood,” the COAS said.
Responding, the emir described Buratai’s visit to the area as a great reassurance that the security challenges in his domain would be addressed.
He however said unless the army go to the bushes and flush out the bandits from their hideouts, the killings would not stop.
He said: “Soldiers are normally stationed on the roads. This place is not Sambisa (forest), the bandits have their limit, they can be defeated.
“Since the chief of army staff has come here, we are optimistic that the problem will be over.”
He assured the Nigerian army and other security agencies of the continuous support and cooperation of the people.
He also appealed to the federal government to urgently do something about the dilapidated state of roads in the area, especially, the Birnin Gwari- Kaduna road and the road from Birnin Gwari to Niger State.